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Texas Same-Sex Marriage Plaintiffs Endure 2nd Harrowing Child Birth With No Parental Rights: PHOTOS

Dimetman

Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman were inspired to become plaintiffs in a marriage equality lawsuit during the birth of their first child. 

DeLeon experienced delivery complications, and if something had happened to her, Dimetman wouldn't have had any parental rights — even though they were legally married in Massachusetts.  

After Dimetman became pregnant with the couple's second child, it was an argument the couple's attorneys repeatedly raised as they urged federal courts to lift a stay of a February 2014 decision striking down Texas' marriage ban

Over the weekend, Dimetman gave birth to a baby girl (above), and again there were complications. 

DeLeon“Labor is scary and anything can happen," Dimetman said in a statement on Monday. "I had an infection as a complication of labor that led to an emergency C-section. A day that should have been one of the happiest of our life was terrifying for Cleo. If I had not made it through the childbirth, Cleo would not have been our daughter’s legal mother because her name is not allowed on the birth certificate in Texas.”

DeLeon said the couple was overjoyed about the birth of but disappointed that Texas' marriage ban remains in place. 

"It is unfair to deny loving parents like us the basic legal protections that provide stability and security so critical to child rearing," DeLeon said. "We pray for the day when all Texans are treated equally under the law and we do not have to live in fear that something bad could happen in childbirth and I would not be considered the child’s parent by law. We hope the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court make all marriages legal in Texas and across the nation.”

Neel Lane, one of the couple's attorneys, noted it's been more than two months since the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the Texas marriage case, but the three-judge panel still hasn't ruled. 

“This otherwise joyous day for Nicole and Cleo is a sad one because, in the eyes of Texas, Nicole is an unwed mother," Lane said. "Her valid marriage to Cleo is declared void by a Texas law that U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia declared unconstitutional more than a year ago. Court after court have agreed with him, and no one doubts the U.S. Supreme Court will do the same."

The other plaintiffs in the Texas marriage lawsuit, Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, issued a statement congratulating DeLeon and Dimetman. 

"We are so thrilled for them!" Phariss and Holmes said. "Unfortunately, Texas law does not recognize Cleo as a parent, even though Cleo and Nicole have been married for more than 5 ½ years. As a result, they must spend money to go to court to fix that, money that could be saved instead for their daughter’s future education, health care, and welfare. The time has now come for marriage equality to be recognized in Texas for the sake Nicole and Cleo and their daughter and for the sake of all gays and lesbians in Texas, including Vic and me who, after 18 years together, desperately want to marry the person we love in the state we love.”


Texas Lawmakers May Have Set A Record For The Most Anti-LGBT Bills In The History Of Any State

Cake

Jon Stewart was dead on last night when he said Texas lawmakers are munching on some serious hate cake

The Texas Observer reports today that they've now apparently set a record for the most anti-LGBT legislation in the history of any state. 

At least 20 anti-LGBT measures were introduced prior to last week's filing deadline. That's more than what is believed to be the previous record of 16 in Oklahoma this year. 

But in the Sooner State, 15 of those bills have already died, and LGBT advocates in Texas say they're confident they'll have similar results. 

From the Observer

EqTxDaniel Williams, legislative specialist for Equality Texas, said the group is “well-positioned” to defeat every piece of anti-LGBT legislation. Williams called it the worst session for LGBT rights since 2005—when the state’s marriage amendment passed and a proposal to ban gay foster parents was defeated on the House floor.

“What’s different about this Legislature than 2005 is that Texas, like most of the nation, has evolved on LGBT issues, and that mainstream voice is emerging and is being heard in the Texas Legislature,” Williams said. “It damages the Texas brand, and I think that’s why you’re seeing so many business voices get involved. … We also know how this process works better than our opposition does.”

Bell.CecilThe anti-LGBT legislation in Texas ranges from proposals targeting same-sex marriage, to religious freedom "license to discriminate" amendments, to bans on local LGBT protections, to bills that would criminalize transgender bathroom use.

GOP Rep. Cecil Bell (right), who's leading the charge with four anti-LGBT bills, told the Observer

“Unfortunately, I think it gets couched as ‘anti.’ It’s not about ‘anti.’ It’s about being pro-states’ rights. It’s about being pro-traditional values,” Bell said. “We’re seeing the results of a federal court system that doesn’t seem to be respecting the rights, the sovereignty, of the states and of the people. Because of that, you see the state legislatures pushing back.”

Pena.GilbertAnd GOP Rep. Gilbert Pena (right), the author of two of the four transgender bathroom criminalization bills, said this:

“This bill really is trying to establish the students’ rights to privacy,” said Rep. Gilbert Pena (R-Pasadena), who wants to make schools liable for damages if they allow transgender students to use restrooms based on how they identify. “How many girls in our high schools are going to be willing to allow some transgender male into their bathroom? Would you allow that for your daughter? I would not allow it for my daughter.”

Apparently, Pena doesn't quite understand the concept of transgender, since his bill would actually require transgender males to use the restroom alongside his daughter. 

Ahh, Texas. 


One Of Nation's Few Homeless Shelters For LGBT Youth Opens Doors In San Antonio, Texas

Homeless

One of the nation's few homeless shelters specifically for LGBTQ youth has opened its doors in San Antonio. 

Thrive Youth Center is a 13-bed, 1,400-square-foot facility — including five individual rooms for transgender youth. 

The center, which will serve LGBTQ youth ages 18-25, was initially scheduled to open last year at a downtown church, but that plan was nixed due to zoning issues. The shelter finally opened last week through a partnership with Haven for Hope, a larger facility serving the general homeless population. 

Texas Public Radio reports: 

WhitleyThrive Executive Director Sandra Whitley (right) said Haven has changed its intake process since Thrive came on board, asking new applicants if they required LGBT services. “And if they check yes, then they call one of us over at our office and we come over and talk to the person and see if they’ll be a fit for our program.” ...

Thrive’s initial mission —getting people back on their feet — is being upheld through Haven’s programs. “The services that we were going to offer, the GED program; the career counseling; the job placement, all those things are now located 25 feet from our door,” said Whitley.

Scott Ackerson, a Vice President for Haven for Hope, said they also found space for certain individuals who did not meet Thrive’s 18-25 age group criteria. “We’ve got the capacity to serve an additional 10 LGBT individuals that don’t necessarily fit within Thrive’s target population,” said Ackerson.

According to Thrive Youth Center's website, 50 percent of homeless youth in San Antonio are LGBTQ, mostly as a result of family rejection. And homeless LGBTQ youth on the street are more than twice as likely to commit suicide as other youth on the street.

Meanwhile, nearly nearly one in three transgender men and women report being turned away from homeless shelters because they are transgender, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. 

Before opening Thrive Youth, Whitley and other founders visited the Ali Forney Center in New York City and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles — two of the only other homeless shelters in the nation for LGBTQ youth. Whitley, whose parents once sent her to a mental hospital because she was gay, sold her business last year so she could run the shelter. 

For more information on the Thrive Youth Center or to make a donation, go here. And to listen to the stories of some of the youth who'll be served by the facility, go here

With any luck, Thrive Youth Center can serve as a model for shelters serving homeless LGBTQ youth across Texas and in other red states — where the facilities are often most needed due to high levels of family rejection.

Watch a video report from last year about plans for the Thrive Youth Center, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "One Of Nation's Few Homeless Shelters For LGBT Youth Opens Doors In San Antonio, Texas" »


Anti-Gay Texas House Candidate Calls Opponent 'El Diablo' For Supporting LGBT Rights

Bernal

Last month we told you about Nunzio Previtera, the rabidly anti-LGBT Texas House candidate who says God didn't intend people to be gay. 

NunzioWith early voting now under way in his runoff against former Councilman Diego Bernal, who authored San Antonio's LGBT protections, Previtera (right) is at it again. This time, his supporters reportedly are distributing the hateful anti-gay flier shown above. 

OutInSA.com reports: 

A group of supporters of Republican candidate Nunzio Previtera, calling themselves Tejanos Against Politicos, is distributing a flyer to voters in Texas House District 123 that shows two men kissing and former City Councilman Diego Bernal, Previtera’s Democratic rival in the race, depicted as “El Diablo,” the devil.

The two men kissing, of course, are gay Marines Brandon Morgan and Dalan Wells. So it seems that in addition to Bernal, Previtera's supporters are attacking all military servicemembers. 

But the worst part is that Previtera was endorsed this week by Texas Rebublican Gov. Greg Abbott. From OutInSA.com

Governor Greg Abbott rolled into San Antonio on February 11 to offer his endorsement of Nunzio Previtera, the Republican anti-LGBT candidate who’s running against Democrat Diego Bernal in the race for Texas House District 123.

The governor spoke to a group of about 150 people who gathered at a local pizzeria off Blanco Road saying, “We don’t need another Nancy Pelosi-type Democrat in Austin, we need Nunzio.”


Gay Texas Couples Ask 5th Circuit To Allow Same-Sex Marriages Immediately

DeLeon

Yesterday we reported that same-sex couples in Missouri and South Dakota had asked federal judges to allow marriages to begin immediately in those states. 

Now attorneys for two same-sex couples in Texas, including Cleopatra DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman (above) have done the same. 

Like the Missouri and South Dakota motions, the Texas filing relies on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision this week to allow same-sex marriages to begin in Alabama

The Texas Observer reports: 

LaneIf the 5th Circuit doesn't lift the stay for all same-sex couples, the motion asks that it be lifted for the limited purpose of establishing the parental rights of plaintiff Cleopatra DeLeon, whose wife, Nicole Dimetman, is expecting a child in March.

The motion cites the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to halt same-sex marriages in both Alabama and Florida, after federal district judges struck down bans in those states. The high court will hear appeals in April from four states where same-sex marriage bans were upheld. ... 

Neel Lane (right), an attorney for the couples, said in a statement he remains confident the 5th Circuit will rule in favor of marriage equality.

"But same-sex marriages are proceeding across the South and Southwest, while Texas remains the most populous state where gays and lesbians are deprived of that right," Lane said. "Today we urge the Fifth Circuit to remedy that omission immediately.”

The Texas motion includes powerful arguments in favor of lifting the stay at least for DeLeon, outlining the many steps the couple would have to go through for her to adopt their expected daughter, and explaining that if something happens to Dimetman during childbirth, she may never be able to do so. 

"If Dimetman is otherwise incapacitated, DeLeon’s right and ability to care for the child will be far from assured, as she will not have parental rights unless and until the adoption is completed. Thus, DeLeon may not be able to rock the baby to sleep; she may not be able to comfort the baby when he or she is upset; she may not be able to direct the baby’s medical care. Adoption takes time, and if something happens to Dimetman, time will not be a luxury that DeLeon and the baby have."

Last February, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia struck down Texas' marriage ban as unconstitutional, but stayed his decision pending the state's appeal to the 5th Circuit, which heard oral arguments last month. 

Observers believe a 5th Circuit panel is likely to rule in favor of marriage equality, but it's unclear whether it will do so before the Supreme Court addresses the issue. The high court will hear appeals in April from four states where marriage bans were upheld.

In December, Judge Garcia denied a motion to lift the stay in Texas — but that was before the Supreme Court allowed marriages to begin in Alabama and Florida. 

Read the full motion, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Gay Texas Couples Ask 5th Circuit To Allow Same-Sex Marriages Immediately" »


Texas GOP Candidate Says God Didn't Intend For People To Be Gay As Supporters Attack Rival Over Bathhouse

Nunzio

Last week, we told you how the Republican Party in San Antonio had rejected a hateful anti-LGBT resolution. 

But apparently the spirit of the resolution lives on in the heart and platform of at least one GOP candidate in the Alamo City. 

Nunzio Previtera (above), who advanced to a runoff for the Texas House District 123 seat in a special election earlier this month, recently told the city's daily newspaper that he doesn't believe God intended people to be gay. 

San Antonio Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff reports:  

“Marriage is a biblical concept,” the candidate told me. “Marriage was first talked about in the Bible. And the Bible very specifically said that marriage is between a man and woman. ... My study of the Bible gives me very specific views about homosexuality. I don’t believe that God intended that to be the way people act.”

At the same time, Previtera said, “Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only person who can judge.”

BernalPrevitera is in a runoff against former San Antonio City Councilman Diego Bernal (right), a Democrat who authored the city's LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance passed in 2013.

Anti-LGBT groups fought bitterly against the ordinance, and after it passed they threatened to recall Bernal. Not surprisingly, Previtera is attacking Bernal over the ordinance, and in doing so he is channeling then-Councilwoman Elisa Chan, who called gays and lesbians "disgusting." 

From The Express-News' Chasnoff: 

“What percentage of the population of this town does it affect?” he asked. “It’s not that important of an issue to the people of this district or even the people of Bexar County. ... (The LGBT community is) very much a minority.”

Previtera applies the same dismissive logic to the rest of his criticism of Bernal on the topic.

“The federal and state laws in America and Texas already provide punishment remedies when citizens abuse other citizens,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Allowing local governments to single out ANY class of citizens for preferential treatment is Discrimination by any definition of the word.”

Previtera is endorsed by right-wing groups including the Christian Coalition of America and the Leadership Institute for Public Policy. Among its reasons for endorsing Previtera, the Leadership Institute cites Bernal's refusal to stop Terrence McNally's gay-themed Christian play, "Corpus Christi," from showing in the city, as well the former councilman's support for domestic partner benefits and his alleged failure to shut down a gay bathhouse in his district. 

From the Leadership Institute

In the summer of 2011, the obscene and blasphemous play, Corpus Christi, was showcased in the city-owned San Pedro playhouse located in District 1, an enterprise subsidized by the city. The play portrayed our Lord, Jesus Christ, and His apostles throughout the performance in lewd and prurient ways as active homosexuals. Christian organizations repeatedly presented their complaints before the City Council during the summer of 2011 requesting that the blasphemous play be canceled. Bernal, the Mayor, and the majority of his fellow councilmen refused to take any action. ... 

Bernal refused to respond to questions and concerns from citizens regarding the gay bath house in his district (ACI) on Elmira Street which city health inspectors avoided in spite of the city’s Metropolitan Health District office’s findings that HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases were on the rise in San Antonio primarily in the reckless sexual behavior of the MSM (men having sex with men) population.

Fortunately, Bernal is heavily favored to win the House seat in the solidly Democratic district. And once he joins the Legislature, he'll be uniquely qualified to defend local nondiscrimination ordinances against attacks by Republican lawmakers, who want to ban them and enshrine a "license to discriminate" in the state Constitution.

As for Previtera, he'll go back to his insurance business, Integrity Insurance Agency, but we suspect he may lose a few clients. 


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